When should we take someone at "face value"?

It’s not really a question for online dialogue is it? We’re not in each other’s presence, we can’t see each other’s facial expressions, or feel each other’s vibe.

But sometimes, if there is a video, other evidence, books to draw upon - the testimony of others whom you can take on face value…well, then maybe you could take someone on “face value” online.

People like Ajahn Brahm and Ven Analayo come to mind as prime examples.

But what is the common denominator here? Why is it I can set aside, to quite a significant degree, doubt in it’s guise as hindrance (SN 46.40) with some people? Regardless of whether they’re online or not? Why do I trust them and what they say or teach?

At the moment it boils down to one thing for me. Integrity.

And Integrity means many things to me, particularly as a Buddhist.

Here I want to quote Linda in her reference to Ven Analayo’s current practise as she knows of it:

I found it interesting also when, during the recent live interview he referred to the role that meditation plays in suppressing the 5 hindrances (SN 46.51) and how this influences his scholarly work in a profound way.

I think I can feel enough of a sense of confidence in him to allow my mind to feel that sense of ease and spaciousness that ocurrs when you allow yourself to trust and let go of your focus on doubt. Actually, this sort of trust etc. seems to diminish the power of the other 4 hindrances to a high degree also. I find I’m left with a clearer, stiller, happier mind. It is a curious thing indeed.

I know there are numerous suttas/ebts about the place and value of things like trust, confidence and faith in opening up the Practise in terms of how we experience it personally. But right now I wonder what the EBTs say about when/how it’s okay to listen to someone and believe what they say?


Practicing ascetics:

The Kosalan King Pasenadi saw those seven knotted-haired ascetics, seven of those knot-free, seven naked ascetics, seven one-cloakers, and seven wanderers, with their nails, armpit-hair, and body hair grown long, who, having taken up their various requisites, were passing by not far away from the Gracious One. Having seen them, after rising from his seat, arranging his outer robe on one shoulder, placing his right knee-cap on the ground, towards the place where those seven knotted-haired ascetics, seven of those knot-free, seven naked ascetics, seven one-cloakers, and seven wanderers were, raising his hands in respectful salutation, he three times announced his name, saying: “Reverend Sirs, I am the Kosalan King Pasenadi.” SuttaCentral

I suppose there’s no need to rush into ‘trust’, but it takes time, patience and the correct scenarios…

It’s OK to listen to someone - anyone. This doesn’t mean we have to believe what they say but, we may take them seriously if they ‘appear’ to be making sense.

If, there’s evidence that their conduct is consistent with what they say then, this may give us more confidence.

The Buddha did teach people to observe his conduct in order to see if what he said was reflected in the way he lived.

He taught that we should carefully scrutinize anyone we learn from in a student/teacher relationship.

We may not have to be that scrupulous when it comes to others who are not our ‘official’ Dhamma-achariyas?

We can learn a lot from the stupid and the ignorant - IMO. It’s also good to be sceptical about most everything - to one degree or another.

Doubt is a really helpful tool in the process of waking up. It may be more valuable than belief?

I believe that doubt as a ‘hindrance’ comes in different forms. Once I was on retreat with Ajahn Brahm years ago and, I was having interviews with him.

I can’t remember what I was doubting but, the doubts were coming - relentlessly. Then, one day I went for the interview and reported my unstoppable doubt.

Ajahn Brahm joked - Ajahn Cattamalo was also present. He told Ajahn Cattamalo to put matchsticks between my toes and light them, in order to persuade me to relinquish my doubts!

I decided just to ‘note’ doubting, doubting…

It no longer mattered what the doubts were about. After doing this for some time the doubts stopped. The mind settled down - calming and clearing.

Likewise, with belief, it just comes and goes. No need to attach to it or, identify with it.

If, we exaggerate the importance of faith and belief - in others - we may completely miss the point of Dhamma-inquiry i.e. direct knowledge and vision of that which liberates.

The faith/confidence that is an awakening-factor is profound. It is the relaxation in faith that helps us to let-go of craving, aversion and, ignorance and, enter the stream…

I think that maybe we tend to trust what some people say more than others because what they say (and the way that they say it) gives us a pleasant feeling. Often because is coincides with our own opinions at that point in time.

I have a practice (from my own religion) where I suspend disbelief and deliberately assume that whatever is being said to me, by whoever is saying it (no matter how they are saying it) is in fact true. For me, it neatly exposes many internal prejudices and assumptions, further increasing respect for “others”.

But, of course this will eventually fail as it is conditioned and bound to failure. So what happens to that sense of confidence and sense of ease and spaciousness then?

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According to the Sutta when you listen to a monk you should compare his teaching to the Sutta. Then you evaluate it through your experience. Kalama Sutta is the best guide.


Also some people find it difficult to trust others and take a long time. The underlying fears needs to be investigated. Sometimes in psychology people experience a lot of attention and the therapists trying to please the client. This stops it from being a therapeutic dynamic into an unhealthy dependence.

I guess we suffer a lot from this until we wake up. It’s not something that just happens in a therapy session. The good news is the client still pays - every cloud has a silver lining.

Tanha is an unhealthy state of dependence. As long as it persists there’s a mental health issue that leads to many afflictions. Buddhists are not immune and, psychotherapy and counselling ain’t gonna cure it? :slightly_smiling_face:

I think in the teachings it must be good for oneself and for others for it to be considered wholesome and skilful. I believe that healthcare should be paid by the government as in the case of the NHS here in UK.


It’s important that troubled people - who can’t afford it - should have access to mental health professionals through government funding. Keep up the good work? :slight_smile:

Yes, though it is the richer who are taxed so that the poorer benefit. I think this is a good system.

I chose this livelihood by choice, so that I can be free from worry.

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Yes right-livelihood is required in the Dhamma.

Whether rich or poor there is no shortage of people needing mental health services. If the poor can’t pay for the service the funding has to come from those who have the money. :slightly_smiling_face:

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